A LONG NARROW BOOK-CORRIDOR in the outer edges of the Orpheus House library. Quiet, musty and unfrequented and at the far end of the Western Asia department. Dark mahogany shelves fill one wall, the other is one of serried ranks of floor to ceiling stacks, which march away into the distance, half-seen through the shelves and the gaps in the books, like the receding trunks and branches of a forest filled with deep time and quiet. It ends in a blank limewashed wall with a small lancet window high up. In the slant of light that falls from it, a young woman is tapping out a rythm on a small box fixed to the jamb of a half-hidden door. Next to it, a bible-sized steel box fizzes and spits. She takes something, some things, from the box and slipping them into her ears, steps through the door as it opens on an indrawn sigh.
Ordinarily, Cecilia hated the feel of the wards. The way that they squirmed and nuzzled their way into her ear canals, snugging up tight to the eardrums and curling into the shell of her ear. Ugh. Today though, today was different. Their firm slow pressure and the slick slide of them sent curls of electricity down the shaft of her neck and in spirals over her scalp. She felt briefly unsteady, and a low grunt spilled over her half open lip. Over the sudden arousal she barely saw the clean white cube of the airlock as the entry door hissed shut behind. Her back arched like a cat and she shivered with pleasure as new air chased out the old, hissing across the bare skin on her arms neck and legs. The airlock cycled. The brilliant white armored slab of the inner door opened. Heat bloomed in her belly as she stepped into the Chained Library beyond.
The space was cramped, a narrow grey lobby, two footsteps across with a grilled reception desk at the far side. Steel stacks marching away behind, deep into the dark. Little flickers of phosphorescence leaked from the bookcases and over everything, even over the sealing power of the wards was a sea-wash of sound, whispers and song in a thousand dead languages. To Cecilia’s heightened senses the imprisoned books seemed to wriggle and bounce. She had little interest for this background chatter however, for across the lobby and the scuffed desk and behind the grill was the single most beautiful creature she had ever seen.
In a white jumpsuit which sheathed her with loving attention, and a close fitting helmet of bright silver, was a black woman. Glossy as stone with a face of transcendent loveliness, long throated and oval of countenance, her mouth open in an inviting, lascivious smile, her eyes burning with promise. A promise which Cecilia felt suddenly, all over, from the hairs on her head to the unsteady tread of her toes on the grey painted floor. the Amazon spoke in rich tones which made Cecilia thrill like a stringed instrument.
“Hecate , Hecate! Lockdown!”
Archivist First Class Angie Proudfoot struck the wide red mushroom of the emergency alarm as hard as she could, and turned away from the beacon of lust that had just come through the lock. Dropped behind the desk and kept calling it in as the locks closed in a rattle of compressed air and bolts. Answered the buzzes in her headset, while she rolled back a baggy fatigue sleeve and started the stopwatch.
“1137. One female, well alight, with book.”
She considered the next question carefully. The answer was all too plain in her fluttering pulse and the bloom of heat across her body, pooling in the tips of her breasts and the crux of her thigh. The flashes of contact of skin with her clothing. Buttocks and knees. Elbows and shoulders. Breast. Oh fuck.
“Yes. Flashover. Grade 3. And rising.”
Shit. She tried not to think of the visitor, while beyond the desk came the sounds of the response team taking her down.
Cecilia was disappointed when Amazon disappeared, and she lunged across the lobby, fingers grabbing for the grill. Code 13? She couldn’t think now though. There was too much noise, horns and sirens and the lights in the ceiling were whirling around. Out of the wall of noise came two burly figures and she smiled with delight. They were huge, and manly and wearing bright armour. Not one shining knight, but two. And, oh lord, those codpieces. She fell back into their arms willingly.
Agents Packet and Barnes had done this a hundred times in drills, once or twice for real. It wasn’t common, and this one was unusually bad. Damned Parascope must have been completely U/S. They came into the lobby from either side, two grey shapeless bundles of P-suit fully deployed. All seals fully tucked, internal air only, every visor down. Even with that the woman burned like a candle in their dark lenses, the system just managing to shut down the erotic flux. She was a swirling mass of veils, just visible enough to grab her and move her on. She fell into their arms willingly. Barnes had never heard a woman – anyone – use that sort of language. He shut down his mikes, but could still feel her hands and body questing and rutting. Felt the swell below. Had the suit inject him with serum. that was going to hurt when it woke up.
The two knights gathered her up and she stroked their armour and handled their codpieces, her fingers unable to close around the glittering things.
“Will you both take me?” she asked in a voice like a brass idol.
“I want you to. Do anything you want with your huge cocks. I’ve had one in my hand, never two. Can I suck you, suck you both?” She paused. “Both at once?”
Packet rolled her eyes, as the sweat pooled in her collarbones and ran in a luminous stream down her sternum, soaking into her bra. Took the syrette and slapped it onto the targets neck. Fuck sake. Guess she needs two.
Proudfoot was fighting it behind the desk, trying to find a position that didn’t put pressure on breast or inner thigh, fighting the impulse to touch. to touch and let go. She was out of the op now, superfluous. Decon, now. That’s what she needed. But what antidote? The calm tones of Control pressed at her consciousness, her straightforward firm voice just crowding out the rich memories that plucked at her gusset and the weight of her tits.
“Evangeline. Subject is secure. Responders are taking her to decon. Can you get to a pod?”
“Think so, but I’ll have to stand. Tried crawling, but it was too-”
“Sexual. I get it. Butt in the air, huh? Now listen: subject secure and lobby cleared. We’ll know the books in a few moments. You are safe to stand, but do not -”
“Look back? No chance.”
And Angie Proudfoot stood and moved off, following the desk and the walls gingerly til she found the nearest pod. Click, hiss, slap. She fell into it, really. Slammed the shutter with a flailing boot. Fought the impulse to undress. As she scrambled her way to the cot, Control spoke again.
“Evangeline? Both Kings in Yellow”
Oh God, thought Angie. She waited for the other shoe to fall. Distracted fingers found her crux. Wet through the suit. Oh. Ooh.
“Evangeline! Come back! Come now.”
“Stop saying come, will you? Please?”
“Second King? She was reading The Yellow Sign”
Fuck. She thought. No wonder.
“Parascope?” She hardly need ask.
So the poor beautiful bitch – here Angie’s stomach flipped – had taken it all in. She’d be lucky to stop wanking in, like, forever. Angie listened to Control working the switchboard, trying for antidote matches. It wasn’t going to be good. Silence at the other end. Pained. Angie could see Control in her mind’s eye. Looking down that great blade of nose. Blue eyes under her mass of dark curls.
“Honey? I’m so sorry.”
“Hit me, girl. Come on.”
Angie slumped into herself. Of course it was. She thought of the book. It’s broad black folio rippling with dark matter, flickering with the light of the wrong universe. It’s flayed leather the skin of some feathered animal. An unbird. A harpie perhaps.
“It’s by Abdul -”
“Abdul Al-Hazred. I know. The Mad Arab.”
IMAGE CREDIT: CHIRUN – “EOS_PROCESS“